Main Bathroom Make-over

guest bathroom

It’s been a long while since my last post, but I have an update for you today! We recently finished a make-over on our main/guest bathroom. We hired a company to replace the floor tile. We did the demolition and moved the toilet and vanity out of the way and the professionals installed ceramic tile. We kept our old vanity, wall cabinets, mirror, faucet, tub and surrounding tile, and toilet. We repainted the walls, installed new lighting and electrical switches/outlets, replaced and added new towel bars, and hung up some artwork and a new shower curtain.

guest bathroom

We weren’t crazy about the wall color to begin with it, but we stuck with it and I think it looks nice now that all the other stuff is back in the room. It especially looks nice with the floor tile and our guest towels. The only thing that I might add is something to that back wall where the toilet paper is, I feel it needs something, but I’m not sure what thought. Maybe a wall decal?

Sorry the the photos, the bathroom is not huge and is an awkward shape to photograph well. Hopefully, I’ll have an update on our half bathroom sooner rather than later, until then!

guest bathroom

Dining Room Update


Our dining room is close to complete, it still needs drapes on the doorwall and art on the walls, but it’s mostly done. One big future reno project that we’d like to do is install French doors and replace the less than stellar doorwall.

dining area

In my fireplace makeover post, you saw the updates that we made with paint and the addition of some IKEA cabinetry and book case. We’ve added a rug, some furniture, and a funky metal sculpture hanging over the mantel. Opposite of the fireplace and right next to the peninsula in the kitchen, we have a table and chairs. All of the furniture, including the rug, is from IKEA. What can I say, we shop there a lot! We also bought a cute little metal trashcan there that works as great storage for logs for the fire. Once the winter decorations (trees and snowmen) are put away, the mantel is going to be quite bare. I’m planning on checking out the local thrift shops for finds that I can spray paint. I’d like a big ceramic tiki, but we’ll see what I can find.

While this room will hold the entire family for holidays, it seemed a terrible waste of space to keep it as a dining room only. So we’re calling it the cafe instead. The small table and chairs work great for us for meals with just the two of us and it’s been great for board gaming as well. Having it right next to the kitchen counter is great space for extra game pieces that we need access to, but don’t want cluttering up the main space. And the two chairs and coffee table in front of the fireplace have been wonderful for reading by the fire and relaxing. Even Pixel likes the space, she’s often found lounging in one of the chairs while we’re at work. Other times, she likes to photo-bomb pictures for the blog.

Dave’s Office: Sneak Peak

Dave's office

Since you got to see my office last week, here’s a sneak peak at Dave’s office, which used to be the formal dining room. Behind those bookcases was the entryway into the family room. So far we’ve done the same as in my office:

  • Painted the walls, ceiling, and trim
  • Installed the engineered floating hardwood flooring
  • Painted and installed new base boards and quarter round molding
  • Assembled and installed a wall of BILLY bookcases from IKEA
  • Installed a new ceiling fan

And we still need to do a few things in here as well:

  • Install blinds in the window (and maybe some curtains too)
  • Hand artwork (he already has several things framed and ready to go)
  • Install a door, this could be tricky as there was no door to this room originally
  • Figure out a supplemental desk that can be pulled out when needed

My Office: Progress


I know I haven’t had many updates lately, once we moved into the house and it wasn’t renovate all the time, it got harder to find things to post since things got done a bit more gradually. Here’s a look at my office. So far we’ve:

  • Painted the walls, ceiling, and trim
  • Installed the engineered floating hardwood flooring
  • Painted and installed new base boards and quarter round molding
  • Assembled and installed a wall of BILLY bookcases from IKEA
  • Installed a new ceiling fan


I’m really happy with how the wall of bookcases turned out. All of my books are finally out of boxes. I don’t think I’ve ever had ALL of my books out and shelves before and it’s a nice change. It also gives me some space to display framed photos and knickknacks, though I don’t have many out yet. I’m planning on unpacking some of my favorite Goofy items for along the top of the book cases.

Eventually, I’d like to build a shelf under the window between the two existing bookcases for plants with perhaps more storage below.

The room isn’t completely done, we still have to:

  • Sew and hang curtains
  • Paint and hang the room and closet doors
  • Frame and hang artwork, I have some fun things to display!

I still need to figure out what style of curtains I want to sew and what fabric I want to use. Decisions, decisions, sometimes their harder than the actual work!

Fireplace Makeover

fireplace - before

Above is what our fireplace looked like when we first bought the house. The fireplace is located in a room that adjoins the kitchen, it’s technically the family room, but we’re calling it the dining room since the original dining room will eventually become Dave’s office. Below is what the fireplace and dining room look like now, totally photo-bombed by the dog.

fireplace -after

Big difference, huh!?! The only real demolition that occurred here was to remove the hardwood flooring and the trim, including the baseboards and fireplace molding. To start we painted the entire room: ceiling, trim, walls, and fireplace (the color is more blue in person, it’s showing up much more green in the picture).

We gave the brick a coat of good primer and then one coat of satin finish paint. I spray painted the four vent covers with a primer and paint in one. I painted the inside of the firebox along with the grate with high heat paint that’s often used for painting BBQ grills. And finally I painted the old screen with spray paint and touching up the mesh part with metallic paint from Martha Stewart’s line at Lowe’s. For now, we’re leaving the wood mantel alone, though I might stain or paint it in the future.

Dave installed the floating engineered hardwood floor as well as the baseboard, quarter round, and fireplace moldings. Also, since this photo was taken, Dave removed the ceiling fan and installed four can lights on a dimmer.

The liquor cabinet to the left and the extra deep bookcase (yay! cookbook storage) to the right are both IKEA. This room is going to be multipurpose for use. On holidays, we’ll have a large table to fit our family, but day to day we’ll have a small two person table for just Dave and I, as well as a couple of arm chairs, coffee table, and rug in front of the fireplace which we refer to as the “cafe” area. We’ve looked at chairs and rugs at IKEA, but we haven’t bought anything yet. Once we get the furniture figured out, then we’ll move on to artwork for the walls.

Sorry for the long absence here, once we got moved it got hard to keep up. We are making great progress and I hope to have more updates soon.

Kitchen Countertops

kitchen countertops

The kitchen counters have been installed! Finally we can use our kitchen! We still have a few things left to do, but with the completion of the natural gas conversion and the addition of the countertops, it definitely makes the kitchen much more usable. I actually was able to make my breakfast and a cup of tea in it this morning.

kitchen countertops

We decided to go with quartz countertops for a number of reasons. Quartz is non-porous so you don’t need to seal it like granite and marble. It’s very stain resistant as well as scratch resistant. Since it’s engineered stone made out of real quartz crystals, it’s available in a wider range of colors compared to granite and marble. On the downside, it’s very expensive compared to other choices and next to impossible to repair if damage does occur. The only other material we considered was a solid surface like Corian, but it’s more prone to staining and heat damage (though it is relatively easy to repair).

We specifically went with the Cambria brand of quartz and we purchased them through Bgreen Today in Ann Arbor. After shopping around to three or four places, they had the best price. Their fabricators sent someone out to the house to take precise measurements and they also needed our sink and faucet choices since they were cutting holes for both.

Since we have a lot of surface area, there are two seams on either side of the sink. They are very discrete and we barely notice them. The installation took about an hour and a half and the glue they use to secure it in place stinks, so make sure you have them installed on a day that you can have ALL of your windows open.

kitchen countertops

As I said above, we still have a few things left to do in the kitchen. Here’s a rundown of our to do list:

  • attach the door/drawer handles
  • hook-up the sink plumbing
  • remove the blue plastic and cure the finish (by wiping down all the surfaces with a week soap solution)
  • caulk any gaps
  • finish installing the toe kick
  • install the pendant fixture (I’ve got to buy one first) and can lights
  • install door and drawer interior items (shelves, organizers, etc.)
  • pack & unpack all of our kitchen stuff!

Assembling & Installing an IKEA Kitchen, Part 3

cornice & deco strip

The last step in installing an IKEA kitchen are the details, namely the cornice, deco strip, cover panels, doors and hinges, drawer fronts, and hardware. We have all of that done so far except for the door/drawer hardware.

The cornice and the deco strip are actually the same bit of trim that is installed in two different ways. For the cornice, the trim piece is installed with the wider side parallel to the top of the cabinets. The deco strip is installed with the narrower side parallel to the bottom of the cabinets. Both pieces of trim are optional.

We used the cornice to fill in the space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling. This gave us a bit of breathing room during installation to account for a less than level ceiling and to safeguard against our less than perfect installation. The cornice really finishes it off. We ignored the instructions that came with the cornice and opted to use construction adhesive between the trim and the cabinets so that we didn’t have to screw into them from the inside of the cabinets.

The deco strip does a great job hiding our under cabinet lighting. We did follow the instructions included for installing the deco strip. The trim comes with screws, brackets, and a roll of spongy tape. The tape runs between the trim and the cabinets, though we’re not entirely sure of its purpose. The brackets slide into a groove on the back of the deco strip and is screwed into the cabinet.

The difficult portion of installation for both the cornice and the deco strip are mitering the corners. Most of the cuts are a standard 45° miter, but that angle does not work for the case of our corner cabinet. The instructions say to cut at a 67.5° angle, but most miter saws will not go this high. Use a 22.5° angle for all of your cuts and you’ll be good to go. We found it helpful to make templates out of the sticks of styrofoam that came in some of our other IKEA products’ packaging to prevent any damage to our expensive trim pieces.

Since IKEA kitchen cabinets are modular with all the same cabinets on the inside and different finishes on the doors and drawers, cover panels need to be installed on end cabinets in order to have a seamless look. These are installed with screws provided usually through holes that are already pre-drilled, though it depends on where the cover panel is located. For example, on the back of our peninsula, Dave attached the cover panel using L brackets. In order to do this, we did not install the back of the cabinets like we did with the other cabinets.


Installing the hinges and doors was super easy. The hinges come in three parts: the latch that is just pushed into place and snapped in, a base that is screwed into the pre-drilled holes, and the dampener (optional) which just snaps onto the hinge. The dampener prevents the door from slamming and helps it close completely, they are also available for the drawers (see below). There are a couple of different types of hinges. The basic hinge opens 125° and is used for the majority of the doors. Some doors require a 153° hinge to accommodate internal drawers or are used on the corner wall cabinet. You don’t have to worry about which ones to order because the computer will figure it out for you based on the cabinets you are buying.

Lastly are the drawer fronts, which are a little more complex than the doors, but once you get the hang of it, they come together quite quickly. There are two different types of drawers, internal and external. The external drawers are just your basic drawer and they have a drawer front that matches your cabinet doors. The internal drawers are found inside the cabinets and are useful in the pantry and so you don’t have to dig around in the back of your cabinet. We opted to have internal drawers in the pantry and the cabinet where we’ll store our stand mixer and food processor. The internal drawers have a simple metal and plastic front. Both types of drawers are put together the same way until the last step when the front is attached. The drawers must be completely assembled, but everything either snaps or slides into place so it’s fairly straightforward.

One drawer that was a bit more difficult was the slide out cabinet for our garbage can. It was a bit more difficult because from the outside it looks like a cabinet rather than a drawer and the cover attaches in two separate places. The most confusing part of this is that one of the screws is screwed into the plastic plug that is placed in the opening where the hinge is usually located. To spare you the grief if you end up doing this, make sure you place the plug in backwards compared to the directions, because if you do it the way they tell you, it’s a bitch to get out!

So all that’s left to our kitchen remodel, at least on the IKEA side of things, is installing the door/drawer hardware. I’m nervous about this step because once you drill those holes, there’s no going back! The countertops are being installed at the end of next week, I’ll have a separate post about those soon. And in the next couple of weeks, we should finish the rest off. We’re eager for our kitchen, Dave cannot wait to bake some bread and I haven’t even decided what I want to make first, whether to bake or to cook. I’ll probably do a lot of both!

P.S. And if you’re wondering why our kitchen is looking a little Smurfy, it’s the protective film that came on all the ABSTRAKT pieces (doors, drawers, cover panels, and trim). We’re waiting until everything is done before removing it. Once it comes off, you need to wipe it all down with a weak soap solution to help cure the finish and protect it in the long run.

Revisting Paint


In my previous paint color post, I gave you a sneak peek at the paint colors we had chosen. Two colors have been added. Dave decided on a green for his office and we decided on a blue/green/grey color for the kitchen and dining room. As we are not going to do anything to the bathrooms for the time being, we haven’t chosen paint colors for those rooms yet.

So far we have been very happy with the Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint and Primer from Home Depot. The blue in the bedroom, the turquoise in my office, and the brown in the family room had great coverage and took two coats. However, once I got to the orange for the sewing/guest room, I ran into problems. The paint chip did say that it would take multiple coats to achieve the desired color and consistency, but we ended up having to do FOUR COATS! Unfortunately, both the yellow for the laundry room and the green for Dave’s office had similar warnings.

I originally bought a little extra painting expecting the additional coats of paint, but as I started in the laundry room the first coat had terrible coverage. Even worse than the first coat of orange. I decided to stop and do some investigating. The paint associate at Home Depot recommended a coat of a separate primer. I went with Bulls Eye Gallon Interior Latex Primer as I have not been too impressed with KILZ lately. I did two coats of the primer to make sure I had the most even, blank canvas to start with and it worked like a charm! I ended up only needing two coats of the paint. I’m planning on doing the same with Dave’s office (my last room to paint!).

Favorite Painting Tools

favorite painting tools

I’ve been doing a lot of painting lately and here’s my list of helpful tools to make the job go a little more smoothly:

  • Brush Comb
    I first heard about a brush comb on Young House Love, and it’s very useful for cleaning brushes. While holding the paint brush under running water, you comb the bristles, separating them, and making it easier for the paint to be washed away.
  • Paint Brush & Roller Cleaner
    This is a handy tool that my dad let us borrow. After you wash your roller covers and paint brushes, you slip them on the end of this contraption and pump the handle. It spins the covers/brushes drying them almost immediately. You can also use it to wash your roller covers and paint brushes by spinning them in a bucket of clean water.
  • Wooster Shortcut 2″ Nylon/Polyester Angle Sash Brush
    I found out about this brush on Young House Love also, and it’s probably my most favorite painting tool EVER! It makes cutting in around the ceiling, door frames, and windows super easy. It fits really well in the hand and the angle brush gives a nice clean line. With this, I don’t even use painter’s tape!
  • 2.5″ Angled Sash Brush
    I like a 2.5″ angled sash brush for painting trim, it’s a good size and the angle is great for getting into corners and along edges. I recommend painting the trim (and the ceiling) before painting the walls.
  • Plastic Tray Liners
    While these are disposable, I do wash and reuse these liners but they only stay nice for a few washings so I use one liner per color. It makes the final clean-up really easy and if you’re going back and forth between rooms and only have one tray, you can swap out liners between coats.
  • 4″ Mini Roller and Cover
    Like the Wooster brush, this little roller is also a favorite. It’s great for getting corners cut-in as well as small spaces the larger roller is a bit too big for, like above and below windows, and over doorways. I think in a smaller room, like a bathroom, I would use this small roller exclusively.

What did I miss? What are your favorite painting tools?

Super Progress Update 3

As you can see from the photo above, we’re making GREAT progress! Not to say that we weren’t making great progress before, but it’s feels more like progress to install cabinets, lay flooring, and paint walls compared to running wires, painting trim, and prepping walls to paint. So remember when our kitchen look like this?!? (see below)

And our cabinets looked like this?!? (see below)

IKEA kitchen

Dave made a fabulous start with the floating engineered hardwood floor. In fact, he’s almost done with the dining room and kitchen! I’ll have a separate post all about the flooring.

And he got about a third done in my office too.

And don’t think I was slacking while Dave was installing all that flooring! And on Thursday, I painted trim in the family room, painted two coats of paint on the hallway closet, and one coat on the guest/sewing room closet while my dad prepped the guest/sewing room for painting. On Friday, Dave and I installed the base cabinets in the kitchen together. And on Saturday and Sunday, I got two coats of paint on the family room, foyer, and hallway walls, put the second coat on the guest/sewing room closet, and primed all the trim in the guest/sewing room.

Even Pixel is already enjoying the new floors!


However, despite all this progress, we still have lots to do. Take a look at Dave’s office! (see below)

Dave's office

But let’s focus on the positives and end this post with a nice beauty shot of the kitchen!